RETROSPECT: June 22nd – 30th

The following is part of a series reflecting on the life of C.S. Lewis. This is accomplished by summarizing various events or happenings during his lifetime for the noted period and may include significant events related to him after his death.

Highlights for the final third of June (22nd – 30th) include: Sharing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with his close friends four months before it was published, being awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity and more talk from Screwtape about the “law of Undulation.”

TheLionWitchWardrobe(1stEd)As you may recall, Lewis met frequently with a group of friends called the Inklings. They gathered at a variety of places, but on the 22nd in 1950 it happened to be at the Eagle and Child. When they came together at this location it was unusual for them to actually read any of their works. Nevertheless, this was a special occasion, as Lewis brought the galley proofs of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A “galley proof” is a preliminary version of a final copy of a publication, in this case, Lewis’s first published Narnia story. They are then reviewed for the last time by authors and editors (as well as others with whom they share). Around this time Lewis comment to another individual in a letter that the actual book would be available by Christmas (it came out in October).

On Stories is an interesting collection of essays related to literature that was first published in the U.S. on the 24th in 1982. It was edited by Walter Hooper and he notes in the preface that the book came about as a result of an idea by Priscilla Collins of Collins Publishers in London. On Stories is actually dedicated to her as a way to honor her in her retirement. The collection contains many gems among the twenty selections. Nine of them were previously published in Of Other Worlds from 1966. To make matters confusing, however, when On Stories was published three months later in the U.K. it had the title of Of This and Other Worlds (but it is the same book as On Stories). A few of the unique pieces not previously collected are book reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as the text of a recorded radio broadcast from February, 1949 entitled The Novels of Charles Williams.”

The ninth of The Screwtape Letters came out in The Guardian on the 27th in 1941. In it Wormwood is told more about “the law of Undulation,” especially how to exploit “the Trough periods.” They include using “all sensual temptations,” but with the caution that such pleasures are really the Enemy’s (God’s) invention and thus has to be twisted carefully. Screwtape says the goal is “an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure.”

Socratic Digest - June 1944A few of Lewis’s shorter works came out in monthly publications this month. “Bulverism” was published in the second volume of The Socratic Digest in June, 1944. It was a paper read just a few months before on February 7th at the Socratic Club. A shorter version had been published in 1941 in Time and Tide. The essay is now found in God in the Dock. “Membership” was available for the first time in the June, 1945 issue of Sobornost. It, too, was initially a talk only given a few months previously. It is now available in The Weight of Glory. “First and Second Things” is another of the many shorter works that were first published under the “Notes on the Way” column in Time and Tide. It was in their issue that came out on the 27th in 1942. While Lewis was replying to something he had read in an earlier edition of Time and Tide, he makes the more general point that “you can get second things only by putting first things first.” It is also best available in God in the Dock.

Finally, on a more personal note, near the end of this month, on the 28th in 1946, Lewis received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of St. Andrews. This was a rare honor because Lewis was a layman. As you might expect the reason for getting it was because of the impact of his radio talks on the BBC that made the faith more understandable to millions.

Among the noteworthy happenings for next time (July 1st-10th): the release of his landmark nonfiction book, an article about why chivalry is important today and the preface to his first claim to fame is written.

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